The 45-game tuneup is over.

The Post 32 Beckley Bash is set to begin defense of its West Virginia American Legion championship. The first step is to win the Area 6 tournament, which begins today at Spring Valley High School in Huntington.

The Bash earned a bye as the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Second-seeded Post 93 Ceredo-Kenova will take on Post 177 Barboursville today, with Beckley getting the winner Thursday.

The two losers will meet Friday in an elimination game. The championship game is set for Saturday, with a second game to be played Sunday if necessary.

All games will start at 6 p.m.

Beckley coach J.J. Tabor knows his team better be prepared for everyone’s best shot.

“We definitely have everybody’s full attention,” he said. “We have to be even that much more prepared because everybody is gunning for us (as the state champion). If we are not 100 percent focused and at 100 percent intensity, we might be in trouble. These teams have shown they can play with us and beat us.”

“We were playing real good for a while, but then I think we got kind of lazy,” infielder/pitcher Matt Coker said. “But we’re starting to pick everything back up and everyone seems to be playing better now.

“I’m pretty sure every game will be a lot more intense.”

The Bash (32-13) swept all four meetings with Barboursville but split a pair of doubleheaders with Ceredo-Kenova. Tabor said both teams have pitching depth.

“Both teams are real solid defensively and both of them hit well,” he added.

Tabor hopes to see his team perform as it did when it was crowned co-champion of the Mountain State Baseball Classic and champion of the Hillbilly Hardball in Elkins.

“We need to be a little more focused and have more consistent play in baseball situations,” he said.

Getting the bye is important, Tabor said, for pitching reasons. Every game from here on out is set for nine innings.

“We will have (top pitcher) Chip Hedrick sitting and waiting on them,” Tabor said. “(The bye) is a huge advantage.”

Jordon Yost, the reigning American Legion Player of the Year, is having another award-caliber season. He is hitting .458 with a team-record 22 home runs, 69 runs batted in, 48 runs scored and a slugging percentage of 1.101.

Matt Coker is batting a team-high .490 with seven doubles and 27 RBIs. Brandon Redden (.394) has four homers, nine doubles and 30 RBIs. Hedrick (.388) has scored 32 runs and driven in 30 while hitting 11 doubles and four homers.

Leadoff hitter Jerry Farrish has 35 runs, 23 walks and 10 stolen bases. Adam Parkulo has four homers and 23 RBIs.

Beckley has plenty of depth on the mound, Hedrick and Coker are both 4-1. Hedrick has a 2.36 ERA and just seven walks in 29 2/3 innings. He also has saved two games.

Yost is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA. G.W. Dodrill and Joey Church are both 3-1. Dodrill, a left-hander, has 43 strikeouts in 33 innings.

Adam Shaw and Aaron Smith are both 2-0, Chris Blankenship (1-2) has walked only three batters in 23 innings and Joey Nottingham is 2-3 after a couple of tough-luck losses.

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